Testimonial of Ocean Navarro
I moved around a lot as a child so I was always a little eccentric and independent, but I loved singing and performing (which was clearly apparent in school because my music teacher sent me to a music camp at the Excel centre). When I went to the camp, there was an option to do cheerleading as one of the activities; it was there I fell in love with the sport. To me, acrobatics was exciting, I loved the circus and cheerleading was probably the closest I’d ever get to it; I wanted to fly -literally.
AEC definitely brought out the competitive side of me and a greater confidence in myself as an athlete. While competing for AEC I learned that if you are passionate about something the hard work won't phase you. Training to gain a new skill no matter how long it took frustrated me at times, but I knew it was only ever going to make me better. This is definitely something I've applied to my working life. It's always confusing in the beginning to do something challenging but trial and error makes you better. Staying consistent with your efforts will help you grow and it was definitely my love for it that kept me going, even after injuries.
Being a part of a team that treated me like family kept me grounded, even during the hardest of times of my personal life. I never felt alone because AEC was always there to listen, and if it all went wrong we'd stunt it out- stunting was my thing!
I have a lot of wonderful memories from AEC. Those that stand out were our trips to Worlds, but not necessarily because of the cheerleading. I loved seeing Shara's -our then programme director- parents who would make us little trinkets for our backpacks and leave presents outside our hotel room doors. She created the feeling of being one big extended family on those trips. Feeling like you belong somewhere, especially for a kid who's a little weird, there was nothing like it.
Since cheerleading for AEC I went on to join the first United Team England squad, where athletes from across the country were picked to represent England. It was definitely different from the team I grew up with but an experience I won't forget. I decided to retire after that competition to find new adventures.
Currently, I work as a model and an actress; my goal is to work in film full time. It was never something I'd imagine I would be doing; however, the work that came with it was definitely exciting. It was like cheerleading all over again except I'm my own team. AEC taught me a lot of things about myself and what I can accomplish, which I carry with me to this day; I'm eternally grateful for it.
For any young person that has a dream, stay focused and inspired; just because people may not share your vision that doesn't make it impossible.
Rejection isn't your biggest enemy, inconsistency is.
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